Houston simply can’t afford not to play James Harden and fantasy owners have benefited from his inflated time on the floor.
Harden has scored 1,681 points, more than anyone else in the league this season, while also leading the NBA in minutes played, field goals attempted, free throws made and trips to the foul line.
In his third season with the Rockets, the 6-foot-5 shooting guard has evolved into a complete guard, no longer a liability on defense, while carrying a massive while continuing to have a massive impact on offense.
The three-time All-Star has made 500 shots from the field and dished out 441 assists, meaning he has either scored or assisted on 40.4 percent of the total shots Houston has converted this year.
During the 2,279 minutes Harden has played this year, the Rockets have boated an offensive rating of 110.4. The team has played 770 minutes with Harden on the bench and the offensive rating cratered down to 95.4.
Even with Dwight Howard missing over half of the year, Houston still ranks third in the Western Conference playoff race, behind the amazing play of the third overall pick of the 2009 NBA Draft.
Perhaps above all teams in the league, the Rockets and general manager Daryl Morey value the 3-point shot, free throws and the ability to attack the rim.
Harden has been able to personify the precise tactics the team hopes will lead to a title.
Along with leading the league in free throw attempts and free throws made, Harden has scored 486 points off drives to the rim, 51 more than any other player has totaled this season.
He has become a more effective 3-point shooter, converting 38 percent of his attempts while his 161 makes from beyond the arc are the fifth most in the NBA this season.
On average, Harden was selected with the fifth overall pick in Yahoo! fantasy drafts and there is no question he outperformed every other shooting guard in the league.
With the fantasy playoffs set to begin next week, Shatter the Glass breaks down its All-Fantasy Team.
DeMarcus Cousins– Sacramento Kings
Opponents know what is coming, there is just no stopping it. Only 10 times this season has Cousins failed to record a double-double, leading to an average of 23.4 points and 12.2 rebounds per game. He was able to earn his first career All-Star selection by becoming a prolific shot blocker, swatting away a career-best 1.7 shots per game to go along with 1.4 steals per game, making him one of just four players averaging over a steal and a block per game this season.
Anthony Davis– New Orleans Pelicans
For all of the impressive statistics Davis has been able to accumulate this season, the most startling is today marks just his 22nd birthday. The 6-foot-10 forward is on pace to lead the league in shot blocking for the second consecutive season while he has played remarkably efficient on the offensive end of the floor. Davis is connecting on 54.9 percent of his attempts from the field and sinking 83 percent of his attempts at the foul line. A few times a night, he makes a play no one else in the league is capable of, as demonstrated below.
LeBron James– Cleveland Cavaliers
Playing alongside Kyrie Irving, an All-Star point guard, hasn’t diminished James’ ability to facilitate the offense. James leads the Cavaliers by dishing out 7.3 assists per game, matching his most productive season with the Heat, and this season surpassed all forwards in career assists and became all-time franchise leader in assists. His ability to set up teammates for easy looks only elevates how dangerous it is once James touches the ball.
James Harden– Houston Rockets
Defenders do have a few options when guarding Harden, only most of them lead to points. If they play up on Harden, his handle and speed will get him to the rim, if they fall back, he has the ability to shoot from anywhere on the floor. The numerous fakes and hesitation moves only generate contact and free throw attempts. Few players were able to produce so frequently as Harden this season.
Stephen Curry– Golden State Warriors
The efficiency of Curry is unmatched in league history. The 6-foot-3 guard is on pace to become the first player to ever lead the NBA in 3-point field goals made for the third straight season and he needs to up his shooting percentage just 1.5 percent to become a member of the exclusive 50/40/90 club (50 percent shooting from the field, 40 percent shooting from 3-point range and 90 percent at the line). Even when four defenders are keying in on him, Curry is able to create enough space to launch his picture perfect jumper, and the result is always the same.